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TCM Chinese Herbs and Supplements Blog | Alina Sepeda Herbal Medicine
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Natural Herbal Relief for PMS

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Natural Herbal Relief for PMS

The Human body is an amazing self-healing living organism. Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on  strengthening the patient’s immune system making it possible for the body to heal itself. Traditional Chinese Medicine also believes that a normal healthy body should function as it is designed to do. This is especially true for women. The female body is programmed to undergo monthly cycles of hormonal fluctuations to prepare for fertilization of the egg and the support of a healthy pregnancy. Due to these hormonal fluctuations many women  experience mood swings, bloating, constipation, cramping, irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal bleeding or even infertility.

A Normal Menstrual Cycle

There are a variety of Western pharmaceuticals both prescribed and over the counter geared toward female menstrual problems, which mostly mask the symptoms of menstrual abnormalities. So each period presents with the same (or worsening) symptoms. To understand how a normal process can go so wrong, we must first understand how a normal menstrual cycle should occur.

The menstrual cycle starts with changes in levels of female hormones stimulating the release of a the egg. Estrogen produces changes in the lining of the uterus and breast as well as stimulating maturation of the egg. After ovulation (release of the mature egg), a different hormone now is produced, Progesterone. Progesterone and Estrogens prepare a suitable lining for a fertilized egg as well as production of breast milk. If no implantation of a fertilized egg occurs, the progesterone and estrogen production stops and uterine lining is shed which produces a menstruation or period. The cycle then starts over again. and continues until around age 50. When the hormone levels can’t be maintained, the period stops.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Menstruation

In Chinese Medical Theory, the egg has nothing to do with the period. The period comes from breast milk. Milk is produced in the breasts then travels down the Chong Meridian to the uterus. As the milk passes down the abdomen, the heat from the small intestine turns the white milk red. Good milk production is essential for healthy periods, as is having a small intestine that produces a normal temperature. It is completely healthy and normal for a woman to feel tenderness and fullness in her breasts prior to her period starting. however, if blockage in the Chong meridian occurs milk cannot travel downward to the uterus. If the small intestine is too hot or too cold, periods can be abnormal. If the breast milk can not travel on the normal pathway, milk will go elsewhere. When milk enters other parts of the body disease can occur. Maintaining a healthy flow of breast milk and functioning small intestine is vital for a woman’s health, not just for normal periods.

Herbal Formulas for PMS

A common herbal formula prescribed by acupuncturist and herbalist is Xiao Yao Wan. Plum Flower brand Free and Easy Wanderer is an effective herbal formula to relieve symptoms associated with PMS and irregular periods. Chinese herbal formulas don’t treat the symptoms but rather the underlying condition that leads to mild or moderate and even severe cramping, bloating, head ache, and moodiness associated with PMS. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms and are searching for an alternative treatment for PMS we encourage you to complete our free online consultation. Our licensed practitioner will prescribe one of our herbal formulas which address your unique individual constitution and condition.


TCM and Chinese Herbal Formulas for Low Back Pain

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Low Back Pain?

Almost all of us have experienced some sort of low back pain at one point in our life. Although most lower back pain issues come and go in a matter of days, acute and/or chronic back pain not only poses serious health issues, but also threatens our quality of life.

Our spine is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. One of the many jobs of the spine is to support our upper body weight. Between each of our vertebrae is a spongy piece of cartilage called a disc. This disc acts as a shock absorber and prevents our bony vertebrae from grinding against one another.

Low back pain occurs under many circumstances. For example, if a disc becomes overgrown it may press the nerves; if a disc and vertebrae become degenerated they lose flexibility; a sport injury and heavy lifting may twist muscles, ligaments, vertebrae or nerves thus causing local inflammation.

With age discs gradually wear away and shrink, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Discs can also tear or become injured. A herniated disc in the lower back can put pressure on the nerve that extends down the spinal column. This commonly causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. This condition is called sciatica.

Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) has its own interpretation of low back pain and what causes it. It is always a challenge to interpret TCM’s understanding and terminology into western medical terms there are herbal formulas and remedies to effectively treat many low back pain issues.

TCM and Chinese Herbal Formulas for Low Back Pain

The following is by no means a comprehensive explanation of TCM diagnosis for low back pain. It is intended to provide a brief overview of some common TCM terminology and how it applies to back pain and the herbs that are used for treatment of this pain.

Rheumatic Back Pain

This condition often occurs in individuals who live in moist, damp, windy, and cold environments. From a TCM point of view this ‘dampness’ and ‘coldness’ affects the back and causes Qi and blood stagnation, a term used often in Chinese medicine. In modern medical terms this is referred to as inflammation and arthritis. Typically, the back pain occurs chronically and worsens in cold and damp weather. However, warm and dry weather can alleviate some or all pain. The legs may also be affected. Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed to expel ‘wind’ and remove ‘dampness’, removing obstruction in Qi and blood circulation to relieve back pain. In other words various herbal formulas are used to reduce inflammation.

Kidney Deficient Back Pain

In TCM the kidney is fundamental to all organs and is the source for Yin and Yang. When kidney function is compromised back pain can manifest. Kidney function declines with age, overwork, and stress. A back condition due to kidney insufficiency typically manifests in feelings of weakness and soreness in the lower back and knees. The pain is mild. However, it may be persistent. Depending on whether Yin or Yang is insufficient, other symptoms may be present. For example, Yang deficiency may result in cold limbs and/or pale face whereas Yin deficiency may result in sweats, hot flashes, dizziness, or persistent thirst.

Blood Stasis Back Pain

This condition often occurs in individuals with an injury caused by heavy lifting, a sports injury or even a car accident. The injury has led to ‘blood stagnation’ or inflammation in local spots of the back. Such back pain may be acute, stabbing, and hard to tolerate. The pain position is fixed and resistant to pressure. Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed for blood stasis back pain to promotes blood and Qi circulation, removes blood stasis in the meridians, and thus alleviates back pain.

Chinese Herbal Formula Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan

One herbal formula that is prescribed for low back pain is Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan. If you are experiencing low back pain and have had little to no results from pharmaceuticals we encourage you to try an alternative. Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan may or may not be the best Chinese herbal formula for your unique condition.

We encourage you to take advantage of our free online consultation. Our licensed herbalist and acupuncturist will prescribe one of our common herbal formulas which is appropriate for your individual constitution and condition.

If you have any questions bout TCM or an herbal formula in our store please let us know. Our licensed practitioner is available to answer any of your questions.


TCM and Illness Herbal Formulas to Treat General Pain

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How TCM Views Illness

TCM views the mind, body and spirit as a single entity. Thus, a condition can not be treated unless all three entities are addressed. This holistic approach is derived from the fundamental belief, which emphasizes balance and harmony.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) a person’s life force is know as Qi, which flows through the body and establishes a balance between the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. If the balance of the flow of Qi between these components is upset then disease and illness can arise.

TCM employs a system of diagnosis, therapy and herbs to restore the body’s balance by boosting the immune system in an attempt to fight off pathogens. A TCM treatment usually includes a combination of medicinal herbs, nutritional therapies, physical treatments such as acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, or massage, and therapeutic exercises such as Tai Chi and Chi Gong.

Why Illness Occurs

When the flow of energy in the body is unblocked, a person is healthy. Illnesses often occurs when the equilibrium of the Five Elements in the body, are disrupted, whichl gives rise to an irregularity in the body’s physiological functions.

In TCM, there are three main factors that cause illness:

  • The external factor (caused by the environment or climate changes)
  • The internal factor (such as emotional changes)
  • The miscellaneous factor (such as lifestyle or personal habits)

An illness can be in a constant state of change. Hence, treatments can also be altered according to how the illness progresses. TCM believes that the pathology of how some illnesses progress is due to poor organ functions, which requires steps to restore the organ as soon as possible.

Chinese Herbal Formulas to Treat Illness

Principles of treatment behind the use of herbs in TC are guided by the theories in Chinese herbal pharmacology.

  1. Chinese herbs are divided into 4 main types according to their properties: cool, cold, hot and warm. For instance, herbs with warm or hot properties can be used to treat illnesses that are classified as cool or cold in nature, and vice versa.
  2. Chinese herbs are also classified into 5 types of tastes based on their different features and effects: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. Chinese herbs that are bitter have a cooling property and can be used in cases of accumulated body heat due to lack of adequate rest, while pungent-tasting Chinese herbs have dispersing effects and can be used to treat the flu.
  3. Another feature of herbs is that they are attributed to different meridians to treat different problems and illnesses efficiently.
  4. Lastly, Chinese herbs also have both “ascending” and “descending” effects. These are used to guide the movements of the flow of Qi and blood in the body.

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Wan for General Pain

TCM and natural herbal formulas have been used for centuries to treat all forms of chronic pain including head aches and low back pain. Shen Tong Zhu Yu Wan is a common Chinese herbal formula prescribed for relief of General Pain and used as an alternative to Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen which block the enzymes that trigger both swelling and pain. However, NSAIDs are associated with several side effects. The frequency of side effects varies among NSAIDs. The most common side effects are nausea,vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, rash, dizziness,headache, and drowsiness. The most serious side effects are kidney failure (primarily with chronic use), liver failure, ulcers and prolonged bleeding after an injury or surgery.

As with any medication it is important to first consult with your health practitioner before starting any treatment. Since TCM treats every individual differently you may be better suited for one formula over another. If you have any questions regarding your condition and would like advice from a licensed practitioner you can always complete our free online consultation form and Alina would be happy to advise the best formula for your individual condition.


Menstrual Cramps Herbal Formulas Instead of NSAIDs

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Herbal Formulas to Treat Menstrual Cramps vs. NSAIDs

According to recent medical studies, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and herbal formulas can provide more effective relief from painful menstrual cramps than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. So, if you are searching for an alternative treatment for menstrual cramps, then you may find relief in one of several Chinese herbal formulas which practitioners regularly prescribe for their patients. You can read the details of the clinical finding by following this link.

For many practitioners of TCM such has acupuncturists and herbalists, the findings are not surprising. We have been using Chinese herbal formulas with our patients with a high degree of success. Although skeptics cite the lack of clinical studies as a way to discredit herbal treatments, our patients experience the many benefits this ancient medical practice offers. Menstrual cramp pain is just one of many conditions practitioners treat on a regular basis.

Plants and Herbs in Modern Pharmaceutical Drugs

It is estimated that upwards to 7,000 modern medical compounds are derived from plants and according to the WHO, 25% of pharmaceutical drugs used in the US are derived from plants. Although the Western medical community often labels the use of herbs as an alternative medicine, the prevalence of plant based compounds in the modern pharmacopoeia demonstrates herbs are more of a common medical practice rather than an alternative method.

Herbal Medicine as Primary Health Care

In many parts of the world, herbal medicine is used as a component of primary heath care. Pharmaceutical products remain out of reach to many due to high costs. Chinese medicine has a deep history in determining which herbal formulas are useful. So it is not surprising that herbs are an effective treatment for menstrual cramps. Unlike NSAIDs, the use of herbs generally address blockages in microcirculation, nourish blood deficiency and move blood which has stagnated. Some herbs are even prescribed to address the psychological aspects that increase menstrual pain since body and mind are not separate in the Chinese medical approach. So by addressing a wider variety of root causes, it is not surprising the herbal formulas out-perform NSAIDs.

If you are suffering from painful menstrual cramps and have not found the relief you are looking for from over the counter medications or pharmaceuticals, we encourage you to fill out our free online consultation form. Alina, our licensed TCM practitioner, will gladly point you to one of our menstrual cramp formulas or create a Personalized Formula for you that is best suited to your individual constitution. If you do not have the time to fill out our consultation form, you can try one of our commonly prescribed Menstrual Cramp Relief Formulas in our Women’s Health category.


Chinese Medicine & Herbal Formulas to Treat Cold and Flus

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Chinese Herbal Formulas for Colds and Flus

Because of the complexity of each individual, there are multiple herbal formulas used to not only treat, but also provide relief from common symptoms of colds and flus. One common herbal cold and flu formula is Gan Mao Ling. It provides relief of symptoms of the common cold, especially sore throat and fever. In addition, the formula is made with herbs to not only reduce symptoms, but it also contains herbs to push the pathogen out of your body more quickly. Gan Mao Ling works best when taken at the first signs of getting sick and when taken according to the increased dosage recommendations for the initial stage of contracting a cold. With this common cold herbal formula, some rest, and lots of clear fluids, you will be on your way back to health in no time.

Chinese Medicine’s Approach to Colds and Flus

Both Chinese medicine and Western medicine agree that colds and flus are caused by the introduction of a pathogen into the human body. However, Chinese medicine takes the individual’s constitution into consideration. Fundamentally, there must be some weakness (e.g. immune deficiency) that allows the pathogen to enter. Anything that weakens the body’s resistance (overwork, not sleeping, eating poorly, etc.) can weaken the immune system and allow a pathogen to attack and enter, causing disease or in this case a cold or flu. Furthermore, the individual’s constitution together with the nature of the pathogen determines what symptoms and how the cold and flu will present in that given individual. Frequently we see two people get the “same cold” and have completely different symptoms and/or degrees of symptoms that are present. This occurs because of the relationship between the individual’s constitution and the constitution of the pathogen and is fundamental to Chinese medicine’s approach to both treatment and prevention of colds and flus.

The Use of Chinese Herbs to Treat and Prevent Colds and Flus

Chinese herbs are not always given in isolation, as a single treatment, but rather in synergistic combinations. In addition, even if an herb is given in isolation as a great “immune booster,” it may not be appropriate for every individual. The ability to diagnose the individual and come up with a treatment strategy that fits that person’s underlying imbalance is paramount to boosting one’s immune system. Commonly, an individual would first have an evaluation by a practitioner and he/she would prescribe an appropriate herbal formula or combination of formulas that best addresses the individual’s unique constitution. This evaluation can be done with a licensed acupuncturist and herbal practitioner online or via a phone consultation here at Alina Sepeda Herbal Medicine. In addition, our evaluation can be done thoroughly and at a fraction of the cost to see a practitioner in your community.

It is our hope to be able to treat a cold or flu in the earliest stage and even prevent it completely in our patients. Even if an individual has a severe cold or flu that has been going on for some time (e.g. a week or two), Chinese medicine can many times successfully reverse the situation, avoiding antibiotics. However, when necessary, Chinese medicine complements a Western medical approach of antibiotics.


Natural Treatments and Sleep-Aid Relief for Insomnia

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Natural Treatments Sleep-Aid Formula

Having trouble sleeping? Are you looking for a natural sleep-aid formula as an alternative to over the counter or even prescription medication that often leave you drowsy and sluggish the next day? The ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers solutions to the many causes of sleeplessness.

TCM & Chronic Insomnia

If you have been struggling with chronic insomnia, you are aware that insufficient or poor quality sleep leads not only to irritability and exhaustion, but also to muscle stiffness and impaired cognitive function and can even lead to fibromyalgia and other significant health problems. Commonly, Western medicine will search for a physical or emotional problem causing the sleeplessness, but TCM recognizes that insomnia can stem from a fundamental imbalance of energy, or qi.

Prescription Medications vs. Chinese Herbal Formulas

Sleeping pills and anti-depressants are commonly prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, prescription medications can lead to dependence and require higher doses to achieve the same effect. Everybody responds differently to the many treatments available and you may find a better sleep aid and relief through natural based treatments such as acupuncture and herbal remedies. An effective course of treatment for insomnia is a combination of acupuncture and one of many Chinese herbal formulas.

A popular Chinese herbal formula that provides relief from sleeplessness is An Shen Bu Xin Wan In Chinese medical terminology, this herbal formula helps to enrich the blood that flows to the heart and liver while regulating and calming the liver meridian. In more Western terms, this means the herb helps increase red blood cell count and calm emotions. This combination not only helps you fall asleep faster, but also remain asleep for the duration of the night.

Although a Chinese herbal approach is an effective relief from symptoms of sleeplessness and insomnia, it is important to remember that a TCM diagnosis and treatment is formulated specifically for each individual patient. Therefore an herbal formula that may work well for some patients may not be appropriate for your diagnosis and treatment.

Online TCM and Herbal Consultation

Chinese herbal formulas often include a variety of herbs to address a particular patient’s condition. The beauty of TCM is that there is no one formula for everyone, rather, each patient receives an individualized treatment specifically addressing the issues at hand. There are a variety of Chinese herbal formulas that have been shown to help those with insomnia to sleep more deeply and to achieve restful sleep for longer periods of time. Complete our online consultation form to learn which of our formulas will best treat your condition.


Alternative Stress Relief Practices for Healthy Living

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Alternative Stress Relief Practices?

Stress is an inevitable fact of life. Although we can’t remove all the stress from our lives, there are herbal stress relief remedies and practices to help our bodies better cope with its response to stress. Our bodies are hard-wired to react to stress in order to protect us from predators. In modern life we may not need protection from predators, but our body still responds as if we were hunter-gatherers.

A Natural Response to Modern Day Stress

Driving in traffic can be a very stressful experience. We change lanes in heavy traffic and another driver honks their horn at us, triggering an alarm in our brain, thus setting in motion a series of responses in our body. The first of which is a surge of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate and boosts our energy and alertness, all of which allow us to respond more quickly than our relaxed state. The release of cortisol reduces all non-essential functions while we are in flight or fight mode such as digestive and immune responses.

It is important to remember that these are our body’s natural responses to stress. Once the stress or perceived threat has abated, cortisol and adrenaline levels return to normal levels and our body’s normal processes resume.

When Stress Relief is Needed

When we are under constant stress with work, personal relationships, family, health, etc., these stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are present constantly in our system. This over exposure of stress hormones can increase the likelihood that we will experience one or more of the following:

Digestive Problems
Weight Problems
Trouble Concentrating
Memory Impairment

Natural and Alternative Stress Relief Practices

We live in a culture where we treat symptoms instead of the underlying issues which then lead to the presence of these sometimes debilitating symptoms. Alina Sepeda Herbal Medicine takes a holistic approach to health and wellness. In addition to our herbal stress relief formulas we encourage the following practices:

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a wonderful way to improve circulation within the body. It has been shown to be an effective solution by many to treat systems associated with stress. Stress tends to tighten up the muscles, leading to bodily aches and pains. Acupuncture helps to alleviate this pain by activating the immune system and increasing circulation to relax the muscles.

2. Chinese Herbs

There are many herbs within the Chinese Medicine pharmacopeia specifically designed to work on balancing the body to reduce stress. Chinese Medicine looks at the entire body as a working organism, so a good herbalist will be able to tell where the imbalances are.

3. Meditation

In China, the city parks are filled with thousands of people engaging in some type of meditation. The doctors in China encourage people to meditate because of its effect on reducing stress and promoting health, well-being, and longevity. There are several forms of meditation used in Traditional Chinese Medicine such as QiGong, Tai Chi, or sitting meditation.

4. Regular Exercise

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are numerous. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, exercise also improves mood, boosts energy, relieves stress, and can even help you fall and stay asleep at night.

5. Chrysanthemum Tea

Chrysanthemum is a light yellowish flower that has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine In China. It is drunk on a daily basis to relax and maintain a healthy liver.

6. Jujube Seeds

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jujube seeds are used to reduce stress and produce a calm state of mind. These seeds have also been used to help people sleep.

7. Valerian Root

Valarian Root been used for several thousand years in China as a way to relax. It has also been used by the Greeks as a natural remedy for stress. It’s most commonly found as an ingredient in teas.

8. Xiao Yao Wan

Xia Yao Wan is one of the most purchased Chinese medicine herbal formulas in the world. It is used to help relieve an overloaded liver which is believed to help balance the emotions. It also strengthens the digestive system to improve bowel regularity while strengthening the blood as well.

If you are experiencing unwanted symptoms associated with high levels of stress, we encourage you to consult with an alternative healthcare practitioner such as an herbalist or acupuncturist to begin a treatment plan that does not just prescribe pharmaceuticals. Feel free to contact us for a free herbal consultation to learn more about herbal stress relief formulas made only from the highest quality Chinese herbs.


Herbal Formulas for Relief of Generalized Anxiety

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Are you experiencing issues with anxiety to the point that it is beginning to have an negative impact on your personal and/or professional life? Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder may include restlessness, feeling tense or on edge, irritability, impatience, and/or poor concentration. People may also notice changes in their physical health such as headaches, jaw pain, muscle tension, difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia), dry mouth, fatigue, chest tightness, indigestion, bloating, and/or excessive sweating. All of these can have a negative impact on our general well being.

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 40 million Americans suffer from one or more of the defined anxiety disorders. In addition, most people will have experienced their first episode by the age of 22.

If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from generalized anxiety you may be searching for an alternative to western pharmaceutical drugs which can lead to dependence, have negative side affects, and don’t actually treat the underlying causes of anxiety but rather treat only the symptoms. According to mayoclinic.com, there are several common medications used to treat a generalized anxiety disorder such as:

Antidepressants – Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Welbutrin 


Benzodiazepines – Librium, Xanax, and Valium

Perhaps you have already tried some of these common pharmaceuticals used to treat anxiety and decided it is time to consider an herbal anxiety relief formula made from natural Chinese herbs that have been used medicinally for centuries by eastern and western practitioners. If so, it is important to always check with your medical practitioner before mixing any medications whether they be pharmaceutical or herbal.

In a culture where the solution to all of our mental and physical problems is sold to us in pill form, it is important to remember that a natural herbal anxiety relief formula is only one element in a broader wellness picture. Therefore, the use of any alternative medicine should complement a healthy diet, regular exercise, and work with an alternative healthcare practitioner such as an acupuncturist and/or herbalist.

If you are searching for an alternative herbal remedy for relief of generalized anxiety we recommend starting with our Anxiety Relief Formula #3. If you have any questions, feel free to complete our online herbal consultation form and Alina Sepeda Herbal Medicine will provide free feedback and answer any questions you have regarding your condition and how our herbal products can help you.